2017-06-02 / Front Page

Water delivery service ready to go

Emergency equipment acquired through federal program
By Sheridan Fidelman
Special to the Acorn


READY TO ROLL—The Ventura County Sheriff ’s Office orders free equipment from the Pentagon’s military surplus inventory, including this water tanker and semi-truck. 
Courtesy of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office READY TO ROLL—The Ventura County Sheriff ’s Office orders free equipment from the Pentagon’s military surplus inventory, including this water tanker and semi-truck. Courtesy of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Those who hear about police departments outfitted with military surplus equipment generally envision SWAT teams dressed like commandos and armed with high-tech assault rifles.

But for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office—the police agency that gets the largest amount of military surplus in California—the over $20 million in free equipment it has received through the long-standing Department of Defense program has more to do with helping residents in the event of an emergency than it does with arming deputies.

“The scales tip far more toward emergency response equipment than (tactical gear),” said Kevin McGowan, manager of the county’s office of emergency services. “It’s emergency supplies.

The vast majority are for emergency management and disaster.”

McGowan said a major order made last year through the surplus program establishes a way to deliver water to cities in the event of a major emergency.

In 2016, the county received three 3,000-gallon water bladders, three 40-foot flatbed tractor trailers to transport the bladders and one 6,000-gallon water tender trailer. The bladders and water trailer can be dispatched at a moment’s notice to bring water to neighborhoods cut off from their supply.

Though the equipment is free, the county spends money to ensure it’s ready to use and to cover maintenance costs.

McGowan said the water trailer and the bladder-carrying flatbeds are parked at the Camarillo Airport and can be delivered one at a time via a semi-truck, also received from the feds at no cost, to anywhere in the county.

He said the trailers will go to a centralized location, like a park or school, where residents would have easy access.

He said the county has an agreement with three water districts—

Calleguas, Casitas and United Water—to fill the bladders and the tanker when disaster strikes.

Because of strict state-mandated water regulations that require testing of tanks delivering drinking water, the sheriff’s office is required to tell residents to boil the water before drinking it. Mc- Gowan said, however, it’s the best way to get water quickly to those in need.

“I am very confident that this program will provide a great service if needed,” he said. “It provides a critical need and supports people in the very initial phases of a disaster.”

The water tanker could also be used to deliver water to remote areas in the event of a major wildfire.

Laurel Fulkerson, a Simi Valley resident for 30 years, said she was glad to hear of the emergency water delivery plan now in place. A Realtor for the past 20 years with offices in Northridge, Fulkerson said she remembers the devastation caused by the Northridge earthquake in 1994.

“Clearly, we can’t predict when an emergency will happen, but we can be prepared to have an emergency supply of water available in case it’s ever needed again,” she said. “That is a very reassuring feeling . . . not just for me but everyone in the county. This service would have been amazing and could have been a great deal of help during the Northridge earthquake.”

Return to top